For the past eight years, one of my main jobs has been to take road trips. Each month I would head out to a small New Mexico town to write about and photograph it. Through visiting some 100 towns, I’ve come to see that being a road warrior can teach me a lot about where I most want to live—that place called Bliss.
“How much more must I endure
until I become one with Thee?”
In my spiritual journey, I’ve often felt the kind of desperation expressed by the 15th-century mystic Kabir.
Until I realize my true God self, I will have heartache. That’s because I experience life through states of consciousness, each like a little town. The pain I feel with the loss of a loved one and the anger or impatience I experience daily are states, as are whole belief systems such as parenthood, politics and religion. They offer some solace, but ultimately lead to desolation.
The trick to moving easily through these states to the point where I know I am all, and none, of them is to be a visitor—a tourist—rather than a resident.
So I practice road tripping through states of consciousness.
Recognition Over the years, I have come to see that each town has a unique identity. It might be a little cowtown like Mosquero, a mountain village such as Truchas or a wilderness hub like Glenwood.
When I arrive in a town, I cruise the main street to see what’s there. In Glenwood, in southwestern New Mexico, I quickly note the beauty of a village on the edge of the 3.3 million-acre Gila National Forest. I also see, and meet, hunters with their cammo clothing and rifles. On the flip side, I encounter environmental activists attempting to preserve the environment, including the Mexican gray wolf.
I know I am in a place with a conflicted consciousness.
Similarly, at various points in my day, if I lose my spiritual footing, I can suddenly find myself in a particular state of consciousness. Most common for me is victimville. Like any town, it has set characteristics: an abundance of unfairness, a sense of powerlessness and an overriding futility about all of life.
The faster I recognize that I am in a state, the quicker I can move through it.
Help! The trick of moving through a town without setting down roots is in accepting it for what it is. On my visit, I don’t try to change Glenwood. When I meet a lion hunter, I don’t attempt to talk him out of killing. I don’t try to make the ranchers in the area appreciate the gray wolf. I meet people who do these things. But that’s why they live here, because they have a mission to change Glenwood.
I, however, have a mission to know myself as God. And so, upon recognizing that I am in a particular state, I call on God for help. My mind wants to engage in the state. It wants to convince victimville that I’m right about my case, that I really am abused and unappreciated. It wants to lay out all of the evidence, of which there is plenty.
If instead I call on the Divine, the mind is forced to stop, and thus something new and miraculous can happen.
Ascend In Glenwood, since I am here to write and photograph, I already have a sense of detachment. Though I may feel the tug to enter into the town’s conflict, my purpose, and the fact that I have a true home elsewhere, keep me from dwelling.
Instead, I can simply observe. Through interviewing residents, I come to see the perfection of the place. I see how the hunters help keep the balance of animals in a system that does not stay balanced itself. I see how fearful the ranchers are of losing their livelihood to wolves. And I see how important it is for the defenders of wolves to make their case for wildlife.
The system runs well on its own. All the people have their perfect roles. Thus, I can leave town knowing that system is intact.
Similarly, once I recognize victimhood, I know that my home is not in this state. Even though it may feel familiar—I have likely spent lifetimes here—my true home is with God in the higher worlds. My job is not to fix the state. My job is to move through it, working out any attachments that still bind me, so that I can be free of it.
When I call on the Divine and chant my mantra, I begin to see the many facets of victimville. I see how hard I’ve been pushing myself for the past few days, so I find that the persecutor is actually not my employer or friend, but myself. I see that whenever I feel like a victim, it is because I have been a persecutor. In the same way that Glenwood had the whole of wilderness consciousness, the victim/persecutor state has certain facets that never change.
It is my higher calling as a writer that allows me to let Glenwood be Glenwood. It is my higher calling as a spiritual being that allows me to let victimhood be victimhood.
Leave Town So once my day in Glenwood is complete, I pack my notebook and cameras and hit the road headed home. I leave the fight behind and find solace in my soul self.
Similarly, once I recognize the victim/persecutor state, I head out of town. I do this by chanting my mantra and offering an antidote such as forgiveness. I may take the afternoon off in order to quiet the persecutor and nurture the victim. When my mind wants to enter that state again, I treat it like a child by offering better diversions: take a walk, listen to a spiritual CD or read spiritual literature.
Before long, I find myself in a new town, one that is friendly, with everyone smiling. The gray pall of victimville has lifted, replaced by the rosy glow of love.
Often when I leave a small town and head back along some beautiful road—alone with God—the whole world takes on a sparkly radiance. I know that I have survived another experience—I have passed through without setting down roots there.
Days, weeks and years of such travel lead me through state after state, each growing weaker as I give it less of my power. All of this traveling is completely necessary because each time I enter a state, I bring my newest and highest viewpoint to it. In this way, I actuate the flow of love received in my spiritual exercises. I transform my outer life to fit the image taking shape in my inner.
Soon I find that no state in the material world can “catch” me and thus I move into the states of the astral world, where the towns are more subtle and, rather than things, deal with feelings and images. Though it is more refined and even heavenly, I don’t linger there, but instead keep on the Royal Road as it travels through the mental world and beyond into the sublime reaches of consciousness, where I leave all states and merge with the blissful Creator.
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